How to Partition Your Hard Drive

Hard drives today may have enough capacity to run several programs, and even different operating systems. A large hard drive, for instance, could run Windows on one side and OSX on the other. That’s right, you could have two computers in one, and all on the same drive, if you have enough space. To do this, you’ll need to partition a drive.

What Exactly Are Partitions?

To understand how to split your drive, you need to first understand what a partition is. To simplify this, you are going to be putting a wall inside your storage. Imagine a real-world example. You have a room and you want to split it. You simply build a literal wall separating the two, and now you have two rooms. The same thing can be done in the digital world, and each side of the drive is called a partition. You’re literally splitting the space into separate data fields.

Breaking Down Disk Management (Before Creating A Partition)

Before instructing you on how to partition a drive, an assumption of the operating system is going to be made. Since most computer users are working with Windows 7 and later, this speaks to that audience. If you have a MAC or Linux computer, then you may need to modify the steps according to those systems.

Windows computers can partition drives using something called, “diskmgmt.msc”.

To open and configure this, isolate the Windows key and the letter “r” key. Once you find those, press them at the same time (windows + r).

This will bring up a small window in the left-hand corner of your desktop. Once you see that, type “diskmgmt.msc” and hit the enter key. This will open the Disk Management area (also known as diskmgmt.msc)

Take a moment to look at the management area, it will show you several tabs and elements associated with your existing hard drive.

3 Major Partition Types

Before setting up a partition, you should know about the 3 major types that you will encounter in Windows.

EFI System Partition – Do not delete, shrink, or touch this partition. It’s an essential area for Microsoft’s operating system. Delete this and your computer may not boot up again.

Primary Partition – All your files are going to be stored here. It’s labeled “primary or page file” because it’s the main resource for your computer’s files, including personal stuff, etc.

Recovery Partition – If you delete your files, contract viruses, or simply want to go back to the factory settings of your computer, this is going to help you do that. Recovery is as it says, a drive that will recover your system.

Now that you know what these are, you’re ready to start partitioning your hard drive, the easy way. The following steps are made simple to work with Windows 7 through Windows 10.

The Easiest Ways To Partition A Hard Drive (Windows 7 and Up)

Step 1 – Resizing Partitions

As you look at the partition types above, and you are in the management area of Windows, you will need to resize one of them to allow for a new partition to be in place. It’s recommended that you use the “primary partition” for this. Right click on that, and then shrink it down a bit to allow for a new partition. Start with a small resize, for instance 100 GIGS if you have a large hard drive. You can add to it later, mind you, by simply right clicking on it and then making it larger.

Step 2 – Delete Partitions (Optional)

Even though this is step 2, it’s meant as an optional solution. You can delete a partition if you’d like, and then use the free space to add a new one. If you do this, make sure that you have a backup of all the files that are on that partition. Or if you don’t care, delete the recovery partition, don’t mess with the primary or EFI system option.

Step 3 – Create A New Partition

If you have worked with the first two steps, or at least one of them, it’s time to create a partition outright. If you have space available, you’ll find an empty area or one that is shaded out. That is the free section of your hard drive.

Isolate the free section. Right-click on that area, and pick the option “New Volume” or “New Simple Volume”, depending on your Windows version. Once you do that, you’ll be guided through a selection process for formatting, and processing the partition. Simply answer the questions, and wait for the Wizard to process.

That’s it. If you follow the questions in the partition wizard, you will have a new drive partition. You can make it as small or as large as you want, depending on the hard drive you have installed. Windows makes it very easy to do this, if you follow the simple steps outlined above.